‘Coursework in Australia is 40 years out of date’: Uni plans to modernise accounting degree
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‘Coursework in Australia is 40 years out of date’: Uni plans to modernise accounting degree

Modernise accounting degree

One university is set to update its accounting degree, but feels boxed in by the standards set by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and Australian associations.

Victorian-based Deakin University will be upping its focus on integrated reporting, in response to global trends which indicates a shift in focus from annual reports. India, for example, has mandated that its top 500 listed companies produce an integrated report.

Australia hasn’t followed suit with its international counterparts, but Deakin University’s director for professional education and partnerships, Luckmika Perera, believes it’s only a matter of time that this skill will be demanded of Australian accountants.

“Integrated reporting is the next wave of reporting that is going to come in the corporate sector,” Mr Perera told Accountants Daily.

“[The] Annual report is of course the current standard, but integrated reporting is a more strategic report. Annual reporting is traditionally very limited in its areas of coverage - it looks at financial capital, and potentially manufactured capital. Integrated reporting combines financial, manufactured, social, environmental, natural, intellectual and human capital,” he said.

“Also, it is outcomes-based, as opposed to output-based,” he said.

Mr Perera said Deakin University finds similar struggles with keeping its coursework modern as other major Australian universities. IFAC has a listed set of competency areas, which the professional associations such as CPA and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and consequently the universities work off.

“We try our best to give practical knowledge, and this integrated reporting focus is an example, but ours and others have a syllabus and coursework that is 40 years out of date,” he said.

“This is one step, but a good step. In time, we will need to change more,” he said.

Mid-tier firm Walker Wayland recently called on Australian associations to take some responsibility in aiding graduate employability, given the links between professional bodies and university coursework.

“I don't think there's any university at the moment that's fully addressed the issues, and I'll go one step further and the reason they may not have addressed the issues is that they still got to have enough subjects to be accredited for CA and CPA [programs],” said chair of Walker Wayland, Paul Hilton.

“Universities have to provide a certain amount of subjects for graduates to be eligible to start studying at the professional bodies, so the universities are governed to a certain extent to what subjects they have to provide,” he said.

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‘Coursework in Australia is 40 years out of date’: Uni plans to modernise accounting degree
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